Eateries Headline Business Growth

Eric Weston, Staff Writer

For those disenchanted with Moraga and Lafayette’s limited dining opportunities, new eating options are opening up to Lamorinda residents and more may be on the way. The fast food, casual dining, and fresh produce options will offer additional varieties of food and employment opportunities.

The latest new restaurant, Chipotle, opened its doors to the public on September 21st. The popular Mexican restaurant chain is located in downtown Lafayette, near the Yogurt Shack and Peet’s Coffee.

Senior Gwendolyn Tom was pleased to hear about the new Chipotle location, expressing her interest in frequenting the fast-casual restaurant. “The steak burrito bowl is delicious,” she said.

Students may be disappointed to hear, however, that Chipotle is only accepting job applications from those 18 and over.

The first of three proposed new businesses closer to campus is a potential McDonald’s franchise at the site of the old Shell gas station. The proposal is only at the earliest stages of discussion, but some students are already voicing opposition to the plan.

Said Senior Ben Thomas, “McDonald’s is not fitting for a homey town like Moraga.” Either way, the project is far from completion.

The response to news of a potential Fentons Creamery & Restaurant has been markedly more positive. The project has generated buzz in the local community, but it faces a number of challenges.

Fentons has its eye on the old Park Theater, but Plaza Way was originally designed for horse and buggy and has never been renovated. Traffic and parking could be a serious issue at the site and a redesign of Plaza Way would require significant investment by the city of Lafayette.

The final new local business moving into the area in the next few months will be a produce store in Rheem.  The project is already moving forward with construction. The store would represent the only produce competition for Safeway in Moraga outside of the Farmers’ Market.

Located between the Dollar Tree and CVS Pharmacy, the produce store is set to open by the end of the year.

Owner Roberto Cortez said he will travel to San Francisco each day to personally select the fruits and vegetables the store will sell to Rheem shoppers. The small size of the business also means that patrons will have the opportunity to shape the store’s offerings through feedback to the owner.